Africa Rising: Between the Colonised and the Postcolonised Africans
London, August 24, 2018, (AltAfrica) Take a look across Africa today, the postcolonised African often sees himself as an improvement on his colonised ancestors. It is 2018, the postcolonised African looks at archetypes of the colonised African which Chinua Achebe has secured for eternity in the persons of Ogbuefi Okonkwo and Ogbuefi Ezeulu and says to himself: “we have come a long way”. The postcolonised thinks he is better than the colonised. This, of course, is pure delusion for the postcolonised – a case of butterfly who thinks himself a bird.
True, Africa was conquered on the watch of the colonised. But we now know his history of resistance; of subtle, overt, sly, and brazen undermining of the coloniser at every turn. He fought wars where necessary, negotiated where necessary, mistranslated the coloniser where necessary, became a nationalist when necessary – and eventually achieved decolonisation.
Eventually, the colonised handed over a free continent to today’s postcolonised. The choice before the postcolonised was to add substance to that freedom and take the continent to the mountain top. We know where this character has taken the continent in fifty years of freedom. The least said of the postcolonised African, the better.
Colonialism was not just violence and conquest. Colonialism was also lies. The coloniser daily had to tell lies and tell other lies to nurture the initial lies. Coloniser lied to the colonised about himself and his society in order for divide and rule to work. Recall, that Ezeulu’s tragedy was not all self-inflicted. He paid a heavy price for resisting the coloniser’s lies about himself and his society. The white man tried to lie to him that he is the stuff of kings. The white man tried to tell him that he is royalty. The flattering lies was meant to achieve the white man’s dream of social engineering in Igbo land of Nigeria: create a supreme central authority to make life easier for indirect rule. But Ezeulu refuses to buy the coloniser’s patronising lies about himself and his society. I will not be king. There is no such thing in my society.
All over Africa, the former coloniser, who now calls himself “Africa’s development partner”, has never quit the habit of trying to tell patronising lies to Ezeulu’s postcolonised descendants in order to butter their ego and make life a little better for neocolonialism. Unfortunately, the postcolonised African is not cut from the same moral and ethical stone as his colonised ancestor. The postcolonised African simply laps up the patronising lies that his “development partners” from Europe and America tell him about himself and his society.
Getting more specific, Baroness Lynda Chalker, is a British Conservative politician who was the Member of Parliament for Wallasey from 1974 to 1992. She served as Minister of State for Overseas Development and Africa at the Foreign Office, in the Conservative government from 1989 to 1997. Throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and the early 2000s, the Baroness, pretty much functioned as the foster mother of the Nigerian political class. She held court over Nigerian affairs from London. Her children in the Nigerian political class ran to consult her over every issue. By the time we arrived at Obasanjo and Yar’Adua, Lynda Chalker had pretty much become the Queen of Nigeria. Some of Nigeria’s worst and most corrupt elections happened in this era. Even some of the beneficiaries of those egregiously corrupt elections grudgingly acknowledged the farce they conducted and benefited from. Not Baroness Chalker. She would not hear or tolerate any talk of corruption and rigged elections in Nigeria. She justified and excused every evil she encountered in Nigeria. She assured Obasanjo, then Yar’Adua, that those elections were not as bad as people were making them out to be, patronisingly adding that there are no perfect elections anywhere.
Of course the postcolonised in Nigeria’s leadership, whose ego she was buttering, never stopped to ask themselves if the lies she was telling them about Nigeria were valid for her own country. They never once asked her if what she was justifying and rationalising for Nigeria was acceptable in Britain. Since she said Nigerian elections were okay because there are no perfect elections anywhere, they never asked her if hundreds of Londoners are shot and macheted by touts working for politicians during elections. They never asked her how many snatched ballot papers she had ever seen in a British election. These are questions that the colonised would have asked her to her face, even at the risk of imprisonment.
Truth is that Baronness Lynda Chalker was raking in millions as a “consultant” from the corrupt Nigerian establishment and was prepared to tell them any lies about themselves and their society to keep the funds flowing. She is British – she knows how to benefit from the inferiority complex of the postcolonised African.
Offenses like embezzling the tax payers money as a politician would long have seen them facing the firing squad in China or North Korea. For much less, the first order of business in Europe and America is to immediately resign from your present post, keep a low profile, while defending yourself in court that would signal the end of your public career.
In those societies, it is impossible to keep your job in the face of such a huge indictment, whereas in Africa the first order of business as soon as the handcuffs were removed would be to undertake victory lap of thieves thanksgiving services.
British parliamentarians led by Mark Field, Member of Parliament representing the Cities of London and Westminster; and Colin Bloom, Director of outreach at the Conservative Party visited Olisa Metuh, the indicted National Publicity Secretary of PDP and advised him and his party, People Democratic Party, to “protect your brand” in the face of challenges and difficulties. A man stands accused of massive looting of his country’s funds, funds meant to fight terrorism, even giving two million dollars to a lady friend “for investment”, and a bunch of patronising British parliamentarians go to Abuja to talk about his brand and the brand of his party? How many times do the members of British delegation get to visit British politicians indicted for theft and massive corruption to discuss their brand? How often does a British politician get indicted for massive fraud, arrested, jailed, released on bail, only to stroll casually back to office and begin to welcome international delegations like nothing happened?
Britain and other western colonial nations are not to be blamed for their usual ego-massaging and patronising lies to the postcolonised society and her leaders. Africans are to be blamed for the kind of postcolonial monstrosity they have created and called a society. A society of no consequence. A society where a man waltzes back to office from jail, a hero under the weight of indictment. A society who see cruelity of an individual as a strength and consequently elect him to lead. A society where the lawmakers’ chamber is a bazaar of former indictees, current indictees, and aspiring indictees.
The western nations know this about Africans. That is why they come to Africa frequently to encourage and rationalize what they will never accept in their own society. Former MP Denis MacShane was jailed for six months for expenses fraud after admitting submitting 19 fake receipts amounting to £12,900. He is the fifth MP to get a prison sentence after 2009’s expenses scandal. Minister Andrew Griffiths, a British MP resigns his position over ‘vulgar’ sexting, yet Jacob Zuma ruled South Africa for 9 years, after rape trials and financial misappropriation of taxpayers money and scandals, yet he was hosted to a spectacular royal state visit to the United Kingdom.
That is why they come to pat patronisingly on the head for creating a 17th-century nightmare that is completely antithetical to 21st-century civilisation.
Do we get to see a new Africa rising, void of patronising lies of the the western nations? When a spade will be called a spade and not a spoon? Time will tell.